Climate activists block ‘world’s most congested road’ in day of protest

Climate activists took to a high street on Saturday to protest against soaring levels of pollution.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth created a blockade at the junction of Putney High Street and Upper Richmond Road, armed with banners which read Air Pollution Kills and End Fossil Fuels Now.

The A219, which passes along Putney High Street, has been labelled the world’s most congested road, according to a report by transport research company INRIX. 

The council’s latest air pollution report from 2022 shows particulate matter (PM10) – an air pollutant caused by car emissions – recorded in Putney High Street show an average of  20 ugm3 for 2022. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) safe level for PM10 is 15 ugm3. 

Polluted air has been linked to many health problems in children, including reduced lung capacity and asthma. 

Protesters block the junction holding a banner which reads “Air Pollution Kills” (Picture: Extinction Rebellion)

Climate activist Diana McCann, 70, who lives 10 minutes from Putney High Street, said:  “During rush hours, the levels will be higher.

“These are the times when most people are around either in cars or as pedestrians and cyclists and breathing air that’s way, way over the mean annual level, which is already well over the WHO guidance levels.”

A petition – Putney Pollution Busters was set up in February 2021 calling on Wandsworth council and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to address Putney’s air pollution.

A spokesman from Wandsworth council said: “We have seen some dramatic improvements in air quality in Putney High Street over the past few years but we are not complacent and are taking further action to improve air quality.

“We also expect further improvements following the introduction of the ULEZ, the cleaning up of the bus fleet and the growing move towards electric vehicles.

“Our Air Quality Action Plan contains measures to reduce the key pollutants Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5).”

Pictured top:  From left, Mathilda, Caroline, Alan, Chris, Leila and Jenny at the protest on Saturday (Picture: Extinction Rebellion)

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